By N. Schilke - Motorsport.com Mid-Ohio - Saturday, September 22, 2001 - Fog greeted the competitors, officials, volunteers and fans this morning. Warm-up for today's race went on as scheduled. Sunshine burned the fog off by the first ...
By N. Schilke - Motorsport.com
Mid-Ohio - Saturday, September 22, 2001 - Fog greeted the competitors, officials, volunteers and fans this morning. Warm-up for today's race went on as scheduled. Sunshine burned the fog off by the first race.
GT2 Race 9:
Dave Finch was penalized on the grid for a last minute radio hook-up by his crew and started at the back after qualifying 5th fastest. Scramble for the lead at the green flag between Duane Davis, Jim Goughary, Bill Reid and Tom Patton. Early spins included Barry Schonberger, Keith Jones and Hima Maher with Maher parking it. Dick Salem trying to keep up with the lead pack ended up in the tire wall with damage. Reid held the lead for several laps with Patton and Davis on his back until an attempted pass by Patton caused Reid to do a squeeze play and with side-to-side contact in the final turn, Reid got turned around as Patton went high on the curb. Reid had to wait for a clear track to turn back around and continue. Battle for first continued between Patton and Davis in spectacular fashion. Finally on lap 13 in turn one, Davis took the lead and started to stretch out some space. Goughary sat back in third waiting for the perfect moment while watching the battle between Patton and Davis. In the meantime, Finch was moving up into fifth. Reid pulled into the pits and Patton developed a broken axle and had to slow down; at the same time, Goughary had a fuel starvation and also slowed. Jim Blackewell moved into second. Seeing the door open, Finch took the positions. With just a few laps to go, Davis held the lead with Blakewell and Finch battling for second. This was Davis' eleventh National Championship and his sixth in GT2.
Top three GT2: Davis, Oregon Region; Finch, Detroit Region, Blakewell, Oklahoma Region.
"At the end, I just relaxed a bit and ensured my lead over Finch, said Davis. "My battle with Tom was a good one and we never touched and I finally was able to get by him for the lead." Former National Champion, Finch said, "First four or five cars were battling each other which gave me the time to make a charge from the back. Good group of guys to race with." "I was really lucky at the beginning of the race to get through the craziness and was able to run a good race and have some good battles to get into a top position," said Blakewell.
UPDATE T2 RACE RESULTS -- Sunday, September 23
T2 Race 10:
The first of the 24 races with a very messy start -- Douglas Gamble, polesitter Thomas Oates, and Mark Sandridge had early bumping which sent Oates and Mark Sandridge off driver's left into the grass. Brian Kelm was sitting behind and was able to slip through and by then leader Gamble for the early lead. Several other cars went off into the grass or spun on track during the incident including Bill Baten and Jordan Sandridge. Field settled down with Kelm in the lead followed by Gamble, Rick Gilhart, M. Sandridge, and William Moore Jr. By lap five, Gamble re-took the lead. On lap 11, M. Sandridge pulled off with fire in the car; the corner workers responded to both the fire and getting the driver out of the car. Medical was called for, no doubt, due to smoke inhalation. Further update later. After full course yellow, the pace car came into pit lane since the green is given on the back straight. Gamble did not maintain the pace lap speed under a full course yellow and had a very sizeable lead over the rest of the field. Green flag flew and rest of field behind Gamble had a good clean start. In the last several laps, Oates was able to catch the top Kelm and move into second place. Gamble still had a huge lead. On lap 19, Oates suddenly slowed with what appeared to be either a fuel problem or possible smoke from the engine and pulled off into a safe position. Kelm took back second with Gilhart in third. Last lap had more changes as J. Sandridge went off. Battle was for second place as Gamble took the checker flag. Kelm held off Gilhart for second.
NEW FINAL RESULTS -- Top three T2: Kelm, Detroit Region; Gilhart, Cincinnati Region; Don Mills, Ohio Valley Region.
First time National Champion Kelm said, "Very emotional win -- have tried for quite some time to get this title. Car has run the same for the past four to five years and this year was a good one for us. Been a long time coming. Results were held for some time but worth the wait." Gilhart and Kelm talked about the battle they had -- "Trusted Rick completely. Knew if I made a mistake, Rick would get me," said Kelm. Gilhart added, "Battle with Brian for several races this year including the Sprints. Knew his car so tried to set-up to pass him but unfortunately did not get him." Commenting to a question on the pace that was maintained by Kelm and rest of the field, "I was maintaining the pace of the pace car as we were told to do in the driver's meeting," said Kelm. Kelm also won the Chicago Region "Triple Crown" -- for winning the June Sprints, Division Championship and National Championship. "First two I already had but this one is a surprise. Very happy to receive it," said Kelm.
UPDATE: Revised Provisional shows car #21, Gamble with a one minute penalty. Kelm now listed as first in T2, Gilhart in second and Bill Baten in third.
FM Race 11:
A very clean start for the Mazdas. The lead was the Roberts' Twins with Keith leading Kevin. Jamie Bach had to check-up early in the race for an incident at turn two and dropped back to eighth before working his way back up to fourth. Prior to his spin off track while passing a backmarker, Michael Stephens was sitting in fourth. Fabio Castellani stayed in third just keeping an eye on the Roberts' looking for an open door. Outside of some on and off movements, the race was a close wheel-to-wheel action style that had the large crowd of fans cheering. Close racing between Bach and Castellani until Castellani got loose and spun. Jay Ricci took over fourth and on the last few laps, challenged Bach and they crossed the start/finish line side-by-side with Bach edging Ricci for the third position. Keith took the checker flag for his second National Championship ('99).
Top three FM: Keith Roberts, Atlanta Region; Kevin Roberts, Atlanta Region; Bach, Milwaukee Region.
"When I made it through Turn seven in front of Kevin, I knew I had the race," said race winner Roberts. "Blue flaggers did a real good job," Keith continued. "Basically, the win for the race happened in the first corner -- we are so close in lap times and handling," said second-place Kevin. "I tried to catch him in the middle but my tires went away and I took it easy the last two laps," stated Kevin. Both brothers talked about their racing together, "We have awesome close racing and we race each other as hard as we would any other competitor but we have a rule not to touch each other." Their closest race was earlier at Daytona when they had a photo-finish. Rookie driver Bach stated, "The Goodyear tires handled perfectly. I had a lot of ground to make up. Had some good battles during the race and on the last two laps, it was a challenge to hold Ricci off especially since the car was a little loose."